- Associated Press - Sunday, March 8, 2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - There’s nothing else like it in Corvallis - and it can all be yours for just $2.5 million.

The Old World Deli complex, an improbable blend of faux-medieval architecture, bohemian mini-mall, performing arts space and de facto town square at Southwest Second Street and Adams Avenue, went on the market about two months ago.

Building owners Ted and Veronica Cox - who also own the Old World Deli - say they’re ready to ease into retirement and make time for travel.

The 15,000-square-foot property comprises two historic two-story buildings - one dating from 1910, the other from 1912 - that have been heavily renovated to function as one structure. Clever use of paint on the original facades makes the exterior look like a half-timbered building from an old English village. The illusion continues inside, where the main entrance opens onto an interior courtyard with fake building fronts and a cobblestone floor. Framed artwork covers the walls, and more paintings adorn the high ceiling.

The back of the building is occupied by the deli, famous locally for its piled-high sandwiches and decadent brownies, and the Oregon Trail Brewery, one of the pioneers of Oregon’s craft beer revolution. The courtyard, dotted with tables covered in red-and-white-checked cloths, provides seating for deli customers and serves as a venue for everything from chess club meetings to concerts, belly dance performances and academic lectures.

Filling out the rest of the ground floor is a collection of art-oriented businesses: Pegasus Gallery, Kaleidoscope Studios, Azare Fine Art Gallery, Cyrano’s book bindery and Shadowsmith Photographics.

Upstairs is a 2,500-square-foot warehouse area and perhaps the most surprising feature of all: a 3,000-square-foot apartment with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and lots of luxury touches. Ted Cox spent four years renovating the space, doing most of the work himself, into a home for his family.

Cox, 68, has been connected with the building since 1977, when he opened the deli. In 1986 he took over the master lease from Kent Buys, the owner of the Troubadour Music Center and the visionary who transformed the property into its current configuration in the mid-‘70s. Later that year Cox bought the building.

“It is an iconic place,” he said.

With downtown’s recent commercial revival and a new hotel and museum planned just across the street, the site seems like a prime location for something. The question is, for what?

Cox has a few ideas about that. His deli is for sale as a business, and one possibility would be to sell the restaurant and hold onto the building, continuing to live in the upstairs apartment and collecting rent from all the business tenants.

Oregon Trail’s chief investor, Dave Wills, has also put the brewery up for sale, and Cox thinks there’s a good business opportunity for someone who would be willing to invest in the renovations and equipment upgrades to combine the two operations.

“Someone could come in and remodel this into a real brewpub,” he said. “The potential is there.”

Another option: Find an investor in the market for income property who would keep the complex as is. According to the real estate listing, rental revenue from the current tenants, after operating expenses, amounts to just under $88,000 a year. That’s not including income from the apartment, which Cox predicts could fetch $2,500 a month, or an extra $30,000 a year.

Cox said he’s concerned about his tenants, who are all on month-to-month leases, and insisted he would negotiate the best terms he could for them as part of any sale agreement. But he also acknowledged he wouldn’t be able to guarantee the building wouldn’t be torn down, a distinct possibility if a buyer decides the 7,700-square-foot lot is more valuable as a site for new construction than as the home to an artsy but aging retail complex.

“If someone makes a legitimate offer, I don’t think it’s necessarily my place to say what direction a buyer takes,” he said.

There are plenty of people in Corvallis who hope it won’t come to that. One of them is Nick Houtman, who hosts the monthly Science Pub lectures, just one of countless community events that take place in the Old World Deli’s dining court.

“That would be a shame and a real loss to Corvallis,” Houtman said.

“It’s such a great community resource . it’s very funky, very down-home and uniquely Corvallis, because it’s uniquely Ted - it’s what he is.”

One person who’s convinced the Old World complex can survive the sale is the property’s listing agent, Margie Dilson of Coldwell Banker Commercial Valley Brokers.

“It’s not a teardown, in my opinion,” she said.

A new owner, Dilson said, would likely raise the rents on the retail spaces, which Cox has kept well below market rates, and could generate additional revenue by converting the upstairs storage space into an upscale condo or two.

“I really think it will sell,” she said, “but it has to be to the right person.”

Cox said he’s willing to wait, at least for a while.

“If this doesn’t sell in a year, two years, three years, that’s OK,” he said. “I’ll still be here.”


Information from: Gazette-Times, https://www.gtconnect.com

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